What is applied linguistics?

A question that often came up in the early lectures of my Applied Linguistics course was “What is applied linguistics?”, often followed by “Why should we study it?”. Well, in fact, it was usually me who posed both questions, but that doesn’t make them any less important. I trust that course participants developed their own answers (1) during the course, or maybe later in their careers, but this post is just my take on two possible answers.

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Peer review: The good, the bad and the ugly

I am currently preparing a workshop, intended to help postgraduate students deal with peer-review, and in the process of looking up sources, I came across this older article in Times Higher Education, where six senior academics shared the worst advice they had received from reviewers. Peer review, which involves getting anonymous feedback from experts as a condition for publication, has a rather bad reputation in academic writing, and there is even a Facebook group dedicated to stopping the infamous Reviewer 2 (the academic equivalent of the bad cop).

The difficulty in dealing with peer review stems in part from the fact that, after investing time and effort in a study, receiving criticism is not easy. It also connects to the unfortunate fact that the anonymity of reviewers tends to encourage comments that are not consistently constructive. But the main aim of the upcoming workshop is to raise awareness that there is always something useful to learn, even from misguided suggestions. So what follows in this post is a short list of potential lessons prompted by peer-reviewer’s comments I have come across over time.

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